The Warden's Bardiche is a weapon that is popular with weapon masters, but is also favoured by wardens, Winterfolk runesmiths, Marcher monks and aldermen (especially in conjunction with an Alderman's Edge talisman) and even some martially-minded magicians (especially those of Urizen who appreciate the value the weapon has in keeping an opponent beyond arms' reach). As with a Biting Blade and similar weapons it is sometimes favoured by a "civilian" who lacks the passion to use an item such as Mediator's Mail, or for its ability to grant mental fortitude in the face of a sinister aura.
- Form: Weapon. Takes the form of a polearm. You must be wielding this weapon to use its magical properties.
- Requirement: You must have the weapon master skill to bond to this item.
- Effect: You gain one additional hero point.
- Materials: Crafting a Warden's Bardiche requires ten ingots of green iron and four measures of ambergelt. It takes one month to make one of these items.
Walter scrambled through the undergrowth, the trees' lowest branches slapping him in the face with stinging reprimand while his lungs burned. Stay on the path, they'd said, stay on the path but did I bloody listen? He hadn't listened, of course; he'd seen the exemplar's shrine from the crest of the valley, decided that a stout Marcher lad like himself could make good time just blazing his own trail across the dense Varushkan woodland right to the place that they'd laid the warrior's bones down in honour all those decades ago. Following the path would have added hours to the trip. This was the third exemplar tomb he'd visited on his pilgrimage, and nothing bad had happened while he'd been traipsing through Dawn, so he'd gotten a little overconfident and...
...and here Walter was now, running and running as fast as he could from some things that were fast and hungry and had too many teeth for anyone's good. His hands were raw and torn, his pack was somewhere back there in the tangled gloom of the forest, and a branch had snagged and ripped away his seven-spoked amulet. He could swear the whole damn wood was possessed of some malign hatred for him, the way it seemed to trip his feet and confound his flight.
An old, rotting log half-buried 'neath moss and mushrooms caught his boot, and down Walter went, sprawling face-first into the leaf-litter. The shock left him breathless, then the pain of his ankle flared into bright agony. Crying in pain, he was peripherally aware of shapes pouring past him, so he groaned, gritted his teeth and resolved to at least face his death rather than chew on mud while the things' mouths tore into him.
But no teeth came, just a terse, shouted command, and as Walter rolled over he saw them all around – Varushkans, armoured in leathers and chain, each bedecked in talismans and trinkets that jangled as they formed a rough square around him. The two dozen men and women each gripped a vicious bardiche, the weapons readied in a thicket of polearms pointing outwards.
Walter groaned again and tried to haul himself to his feet. One of the wardens glanced over her shoulder at the wounded pilgrim, the talismans woven into her braids clicking against one another, and gave him a quick grin. “Your lucky day, friend,” she said, then frowned as she saw Walter trying to untangle his dagger sheathe and draw the weapon.
“Those things, they're still out there, aren't they? I can... I can fight them too,” he ventured, by way of explanation.
“I'd really rather you didn't, not with that ankle. You'd be more harm than help.” the woman snorted, and she gently pushed him back down with the haft of her polearm. “Better you leave this fight to the wardens, eh?”
Then she turned back to the forest, leaving Walter feeling a little ashamed at how reassuring it felt to let the scarred Varushkans battle those things for him.
And when the shadowy things did come sprinting through the gnarled trunks, their snarls echoing amidst the twisted branches, the wardens met them with unyielding ferocity and razor-edged glaives. No matter from where the beasts lunged, the hedge of polearms stood strong, and soon enough the last of the mangy, pestilent creatures was bubbling out its final breadth.
As the wardens cleaned the carmine gore from their weapons, Walter gingerly tested his weight on his twisted ankle and winced at the fresh flare of pain. He met the gaze of that warden woman, saw the expression of amusement at his haplessness, and returned a chagrined smile.“I think I'll stick to the path in future.”